The sight of the cross made Eugene realize:
I was in a state of mortal sin and it was precisely this that made me grieve.
The etymology of “mortal” is that it is connected with death. Mortal sin is sin that has led to the death of a person’s relationship with God. What was Eugene’s mortal sin? Was it an action that he had done? Was it a habitual state of sinful actions? We will never know, and he is entitled to his privacy. The Good Friday text itself, however, invites me to find the answer within the text.
What did the sight of the cross reveal to Eugene that was mortal about his relationship with God? The key is “I looked for happiness outside of God.” He describes his “wounded, tormented heart” because he had “turned away” from God.
Can I forget the bitter tears that the sight of the cross brought streaming from my eyes one Good Friday? Indeed they welled up from the heart, there was no checking them… I was in a state of mortal sin and it was precisely this that made me grieve.
Here we find the opening of his eyes, the moment of definitive conversion, the choice of God’s life and not death.
Never was my soul more satisfied, never did it feel such happiness; for in the midst of this flood of tears, despite my grief, or rather through my grief, my soul took wings for its last end, towards God its only good whose loss it felt so keenly.
Retreat Journal, December 1814, O.W. XV n.130
The sight of God’s love on the cross had transformed Eugene. His wounded, tormented heart had been touched by the love of God. With Paul he could proclaim: “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies; who is to condemn? Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Romans 8:32-35
“The moment you have in your heart this extraordinary thing called love and feel the depth, the delight, the ecstasy of it, you will discover that for you the world is transformed.” J. Krishnamurti